Sunday, May 11, 2008

Bread -- "Make It With You" (1970)

Along with America and Chicago, Bread were the poster boys of 70's soft rock. Not one of their hits didn't fit the description of slow to mid-tempo ballad in a major key, accompanied by boyish-looking singer/songwriter David Gates' trademark falsetto.

Bread was a very schizo band, though, composed of four gentlemen who had experienced some success as songwriters and studio musicians. On one hand, you had Gates, whose love songs were smash hits, and James Griffin and Robb Royer, whose songs never hit the charts. No wonder Royer left the band after a few albums. By the time the mid-70's rolled around, Bread's Greatest Hits album was bought like hotcakes by everybody I knew and that's where we all got to hear some Griffin/Royer tunes for the first time -- they were not as sappy but they didn't have that Gates falsetto that everybody seemed to be addicted to.

Needless to say, that greatest hits album was required makeout music through much of the early to mid part of that decade. If a guy owned a copy of that record, it was for one purpose and one purpose only. And it wasn't for air guitar practice either.

Strangely enough, when Bread was rolling through the 70's, there was not much of a stigma attached to owning their records. They looked like four typical Southern California dudes of the time, with porno-movie mustaches, bell bottoms and denim shirts. While they were not critics' favorites, of course, it wasn't like going out a buying a Celine Dion record now.

"Make It With You" was really the template for all those big hits to come: major chords, warm blended acoustic and electric guitars, non-obtrusive orchestration, and Gates singing about love, love, love. Even the song title has a whole 70's vibe to it... "I wanna make it with you?"

The song breezes by on the Emaj7-F#m7 chords, which always ring very full on guitars. Even in the beginning, while the chords are strummed on acoustic, another guitarist does upstrokes across an electric guitar's bridge.

Hey have you ever tried,
Really reaching out for the other side?
I may be climbing on rainbows
But, baby here goes.

Dreams they're for those who sleep,
Life is for us to keep,
And if you're wond'ring
What this song is leading to.

I want to make it with you
I really think that we can make it girl.

Oooh, baby, with a love song like this, there was no way those guys from Bread were gonna lose with the girls.

While Gates was taking all these slushy hits to the bank, two of the other guys were still busy session musicians. Bassist and keyboardist Larry Knechtel played on a zillion hits, but his most famous performance was probably the magnificent piano on Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" (I even think he was given a credit on the 45). Drummer Mike Botts joined Linda Ronstadt for her huge run of smashes in the 70's while being a very popular gun for hire.

Here is Bread in 1977 doing "Make It With You" on the ever-lovin' "Midnight Special" TV show, when they had regrouped to put out one last album, Lost Without Your Love. Even the segment's direction slobbers all over Gates and nearly ignores everybody else in the band.

No comments: